Parthenia in Venice

The Brooklyn Rail, an independent arts publication based in Brooklyn, NY, was invited to create an exhibition for the 2019 Venice Biennale. The Rail’s engagement consisted of an exhibition of the work of more than 70 artists at the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Penitenti, organized by Brooklyn Rail Founder, Phong Bui and independent curator, Francesca Pietropaolo.  During the six months of the exhibition they created a series of live events – concerts, lectures and panel discussions – to explore the interrelated themes of the exhibition and of climate change. 

The Rail invited Parthenia and soprano Sherezade Panthaki to perform a concert in the Chiesa as part of the closing ceremonies for the exhibition. Parthenia’s concert that weekend was flanked by Italian performance artist Paolo Canevari who recited his “Ora pro nobis,” joined by a chorus of local art students, and by a cooking performance in the courtyard by Sarah Sze, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Tomas Vu, which was enjoyed by the audience and artists together as night fell.

Parthenia and Ms. Panthaki presented an extraordinary Venetian repertoire – some of the most beautiful music ever written – for the viola da gamba and voice from the 16th-17th centuries, as well as a contemporary composition by American scientist and musician, Lucy Jones, based on data about the warming of the Earth and calling to mind its subsequent climate change. The presentation of this music in the warm and lively acoustics of the Chiesa, in the city that had known this same music centuries ago, surrounded by beautiful and thought-provoking works of art, was thrilling.

Photographs of Venice by Beverly Au, Sherezade Panthaki, Wendy Steiner, and Gary Thor Wedow (November 2019).
Music from the live performance Nov. 23, 2019: Italia Mia by Philippe Verdelot (c. 1470-1542, recorded by Samuele Cherubini.

“…Parthenia, a glowing group of viol players that is one of the brightest lights in New York’s early-music scene.”
– The New Yorker

PARTHENIA is a viola da gamba quartet that brings early music into the present with a ravishing sound and a remarkable sense of ensemble, animating both ancient and fresh-commissioned repertoire to critical acclaim. These “local early-music stars,” hailed by The New Yorker and music critics throughout the world, are “one of the brightest lights in New York’s early-music scene.”

Parthenia is Beverly Au, Lawrence Lipnik, Rosamund Morley and Lisa Terry.

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